erinatal Psychology: 
Certification Training in the Peterson Model
of Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis

Gayle Peterson, LCSW, PhD

This course meets the qualifications for 36 hours of continuing education units, and includes




Module One may be taken for 12 hours of continuing education units

CE units can be obtained by simply passing the post test for the course ( 12 or 36 units).
Additional Certification in Perinatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis may be obtained by successful completion of the 5 homework assignments (36 unit course).

A three module online  training seminar


Required texts:
An Easier Childbirth,

Making Healthy Families
Birthing Normally
Body Centered Hypnosis for Childbirth
(this last title is supplied upon enrolling along with a course reader)


Recommended reading:  bibliography list to be supplied

(Additional and/or revised readings may be assigned and supplied upon enrollment.)

Note: Certification requires all assignments and readings be completed satisfactorily.

Module One may be taken for 12 CEs as an introductory course.

Module One


During the first seminar we will identify vertical and horizontal stressors, which impact birth stress in the family life cycle.  This is your foundation for creating a body-centered hypnosis for your client.  You will learn to understand the experience of giving birth for the individual woman.  No two women are the same!  Gathering information in the three areas of assessment is necessary in order to address the woman's individual fears and anxieties through this transition to motherhood.  Through visual presentation (DVD lecture and cases) and hands-on practice, the following will be addressed:

 A. The three areas of assessment for childbirth: motherhood, birth and childbirth history, and present experience in the individual and family  life cycles of the woman.    

B. Interviewing techniques: the meta model and basic interviewing skills practice

C. Reframing past childbirth experience

D. Practice learning how to gather information in the initial interview    


DVD Lecture 1 of Module One

Overview on the Prenatal Counseling Model and The Birth Counselor Interview

DVD cases of: (in this order is best)

Deirdre: Birth Counselor Interview with commentary
Deirdre: Birth Counselor Interview without commentary
Liz : Birth Counselor Interview
Elizabeth: Birth Counselor Interview for Prenatal Bonding


An Easier Childbirth    Chapters 1-4, appendix 2
Making Healthy Families    Chapters 3-4,11 

in reader:

#1 Interview for The Union Newspaper
#2 One Size Does Not Fit All
#3 The Meta Model

 On the web on (click on links below)

Family Life Cycle - Part One
Family Life Cycle - Part Two
When Women Become Mothers
Childbirth: Effects of Devaluation on Self-esteem
Holistic Pregnancy Care

Review: All Pink Sheets, including Empathy guidelines, assessment sheet and worksheets


1. Do the exercises in the meta-model reading with another person to familiarize yourself with these techniques for probing.

2. Do another exercise in which you spend ten minutes or more talking with a friend about a problem or situation, using the reflective listening technique to gather more information. Do this exercise a couple of times, reviewing the empathy guidelines beforehand.

3. Familiarize yourself with the Birth Counselor Questionnaire, but realize that you should be flexible, not necessarily asking all of the questions as they are stated in the questionnaire, but rather, being sure to gather enough information to address the three area of assessment.

ASSIGNMENT #1:  Interview a pregnant woman, using the questions listed, or any others you feel are pertinent to obtain information about the assessment areas.  Use the meta model! Record the interview.  Write an assessment from the birth counselor interview, which describes the woman's birth and childbirth history, expectations for motherhood, including her own childhood experience of being mothered, and her present life experience. In other words: Use the assessment sheet.  Identify any vertical stressors that might impact this birth.   Relate these assessment areas to her present fears, concerns and expectations for her upcoming childbirth.  Identify specific issues you want to address in the birth visualization for this particular woman. In other words: Create a birth inventory list of specific concerns for this woman related to the upcoming childbirth.

You may also ask the woman to fill out the birth inventory in An Easier Childbirth for additional information. You may also refer to the worksheets in the reader to organize your thoughts. Pay attention to the place in the life cycle that she is currently experiencing (horizontal stressors) and any vertical stressors that might pertain to this period in her life.  It is advised that you find a pregnant woman to work with during the training.  If this is not possible, interviewing someone who has been pregnant and is willing to role-play her past experience may be acceptable.

e-mail your 1st assignment to: and send by regular mail, or attach a recording of the Birth Counselor Interview, if possible.

NOTE: When sending recorded sessions, do not use the full name of the person you have interviewed. Use the first name only or a pseudonym.


During this seminar you will learn the basic techniques and outline for birth visualization.  DVD cases, practice and discussion of body-centered hypnosis for childbirth will be the focus.  The following topics will be addressed:

A) Identifying factors to be addressed, from the birth counselor interview

B) Identifying visualization and hypnosis technique

C) Practice of visualization and body-centered hypnosis

D) Review of the initial assessment interview

REQUIRED VIEWING: (in this order is best)

DVD Lecture 2 of Module One

DVD cases of:

Deirdre: Birth Visualization with commentary
Deirdre: Birth Visualization without commentary
Body-Centered Hypnosis DVD in the technique of Dr. Gayle Peterson
Liz : Birth Visualization
Elizabeth: Birth Visualization


An Easier Childbirth - Chapter 8
Birthing Normally - Chapter 4
Body-Centered Hypnosis for Childbirth - Chapters 1 and 2 and
view DVD: Body-Centered Hypnosis in the Technique of Gayle Peterson, PhD 

in reader:

#4 Pregnancy as Healing: Visualization and Indirect Hypnosis
#5 Paging Dr. Fear
#6 Healing Traumatic Birth
#7 An Overview of Mindbody Healing

On the web on (click on links below)

Body-Centered Hypnosis for Pregnancy and Childbirth
Healing from a traumatic birth  
Tips for bonding with your unborn child

Review: All Pink Sheets, including uses of body-centered hypnosis, techniques of body-centered hypnosis and worksheets


  1. Do the exercise of telling a story to a friend (about 10-15 minutes) describing something pleasant, exciting or wonderful. It could be about somewhere you visited or an experience that was positive that happened to you. Be aware of using all three submodalities (visual words, auditory words and kinesthetic words) as much as possible. Then afterwards ask the person what sensations they remember or enjoyed from your story.
  2. Record the session above, or do another session so that you can record it. Listen to the recording and identify how many times you used the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic sensory channels and what words elicited these senses. If you cannot record it, then ask a witness to listen to you telling the story to your friend and ask them to write down the different visual, auditory and kinesthetic words you used. Be sure to use all 3 sensory channels at some point in your description!

ASSIGNMENT # 2:  Interview a second woman, or you may use same person as assignment #1. (You may also use a friend or family member, as a first trial, if you wish)  Identify and establish agreement on points that need healing in a body-centered hypnosis session.  Record the hypnosis session, which should be approximately 40-60 minutes.  Listen to yourself afterwards, and take notes on the suggestions you utilized during the session. Write a summary of the points identified in the initial interview and how you addressed them in the body-centered hypnosis session.

e-mail your assignment to and send by regular mail, or attach a recording of the Birth Visualization to e-mail, if possible.

NOTE: When sending recorded sessions, do not use the full name of the person you have interviewed. Use the first name only or a pseudonym

Module Two 


This seminar will focus on body-centered techniques for helping woman cope with labor.  Realistic preparation for the woman and her partner will be addressed.  The following topics will be included:

A. Identifying an individual woman's coping style(s) and augmenting this for labor.

B. Understanding and teaching the concept of "healthy pain" in childbirth

C. Understanding normal delivery: addressing 3 factors for normal birth

D. Practice session for identifying coping styles

E. Use of an audiotape of a woman's labor to stimulate discussion between her and her partner

F. Early labor projects and identifying coping styles in the context of the couple relationship

REQUIRED VIEWING: (in this order is best)

DVD Lecture 1 of Module Two

Addressing Pain and Issues of Control

DVD cases of: (in this order is best)

Sharon: Simulated Contraction Session with commentary
Sharon: Pain tape with commentary
Liz and Jerome: Birth Counselor Interview Segment with husband addressing pain and labor with commentary
Deirdre: Simulated Contraction Session
Liz : Simulated Contraction Session


An Easier Childbirth - Chapter 5 and 6
Birthing Normally - Chapter 5 and 6

in reader:

#8 Maps of the Mind
#9 childhood Sexual Abuse and their Effects on Childbearing
#10 Childhood Sexual Abuse and Birthing Women

On the web on (click on links below)

Managing labor without drugs
Unlocking the Door to Healing
Learning to let go in labor after sexual abuse 

Review: All Pink Sheets


Do the simulated contraction exercise with a pregnant woman, or friend if necessary first, as seen in the DVD cases and described on p. 106 of An Easier Childbirth.

Write a brief summary of your observations about her coping styles and what seemed to help her most. E-mail to the assignment to:

Keep in mind that addressing early labor projects, labor as a healthy pain and that labor is normally a healthy stress, but not distress for the baby is a critical part of the 3rd counseling session on coping with pain. (refer to DVD cases with commentary and chapters 5 and 6 in An Easier Childbirth)


This session move into special concerns and the use of body-centered hypnosis to release fear and tension.  The following advanced topics will be addressed:

A. Using Body-Centered Hypnosis to address birth trauma

  (a woman’s own birth experience)

B. Using body-centered hypnosis in the case of premature labor

C. Using Body-Centered Hypnosis for turning breech presentation

REQUIRED VIEWING: (in this order is best)

DVD Lecture 2 of Module Two

Advanced Topics of Body-Centered Hypnosis

DVD cases of: (in this order is best)

Nancy: Working through her own birth with commentary
Laura: Visualization for maintaining to term with commentary
Reena: Birth Visualization for breech with commentary
Sharon: Visualization for clearing past birth and vaginal birth after cesareans (VBAC)
Carol: Body-Centered Hypnosis for Premature labor (following previous abortion for down’s syndrome)


in reader:

#11 Prenatal Bonding, Prenatal Communication, and the Prevention of Prematurity
#12 Hypnosis and the conversion of breech position to vertex

On the web on (click on links below)

VBAC: Should you try, or avoid disappointment?
Can your thoughts affect your birth?
Revisiting your birth experience

Review: All Pink Sheets

Module Three


This seminar will focus on the special concern of stillbirth. 

Addressing loss:

  1. the case of Nora
  2. the case of Barbara


DVD Lecture 1 of Module Three

Addressing Loss

DVD cases of:

Nora: visualization for healing past stillbirth with commentary
Barbara: visualization of third childbirth, following VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and previous stillborn with commentary


An Easier Childbirth - Appendix 2: Transforming Fear

in reader:

#13  I grow old
#14 Chains of Grief
#15 What makes Ericksonian Therapy so Effective?

On the web on (click on links below)

Emotions about pregnancy, and loss of first child
Grieving after baby's death
Miscarriage: Should you wait to conceive?

Review: All Pink Sheets including points for prematurity, breech, post-traumatic stress and loss

ASSIGNMENT # 4: Choose a client, or friend if you wish for the first time that has a past traumatic childbirth, neonatal loss, premature labor or birth that needs reframing.  Record the hypnosis, listen to it, and write a summary of how you addressed the past birth or childbirth.

e-mail it to:


Review the DVD of Laura for prematurity and identify hypnotic techniques not included in the commentary. Pay specific attention to all metaphors and identify the embedded commands, truisms, linkages and any other techniques contained or implied within the metaphor itself. Give a brief description of how you believe the techniques worked towards the goal of maintaining the pregnancy.

e-mail it to:



     This seminar will address the family system as it changes following the birth of a baby.  Common pitfalls and assessing postpartum depression will be discussed, as well as understanding the characteristics of healthy family structure and communication.  The woman's experience of her childbirth however will be the main focus of the postpartum interview.  The following topics will be addressed:

A. Making sense of the birth-positive reframing

B. Assess postpartum adjustment, blues, serious depression or psychosis

C. Highlight self-esteem and integrate learning for postpartum adjustment and future childbirth

D. Practice in identifying characteristics of healthy family structure

E. Practice in postpartum interviewing



DVD Lecture 2 of Module Three
Postpartum Interview

DVD cases of: (in this order is best)

Barbara: Postpartum Interview with commentary
Deirdre: Postpartum Interview
Liz and Jerome: Postpartum Interview 


An Easier Childbirth - Chapters 9 and 10
Making Healthy Families  - Chapters 1, 2, 4, 7  and pp.109-112
Identifying your discussion busters

in reader:

#16 Postpartum Depression Course (this course material will also be sent by attachment for easy access to online links)
#17 Transition to Parenthood
#18 When Baby Makes 3 (from Gayle Peterson’s Pregnancy Roundtable)
#19 Everybody Gets the Blues
#20 Healthy, Midrange and Severely Dysfunctional Families

On the web on (click on links below)

Baby Blues...or Postpartum Depression
Is anger a symptom of postpartum depression?

Circumcision: when partners disagree

Prenatal Testing: Is it Right for You?

Excerpt from Dr Gayle Peterson's upcoming book...
What to Expect Before you are Expecting: Questions every parent should ask before having a baby

Review: All Pink Sheets, including postpartum sheet


Do a postpartum interview with a pregnant woman. Record it and listen to it. Write an assessment of the points addressed in the postpartum with attention to assisting in integrating the experience of giving birth. Also assess her adjustment to motherhood and whether she needs referral for possible postpartum depression.

e-mail your assessment to me at:  

To receive credit students must


The Arnolfini Portrait
by Jan Van Eyck


APA Ethics

We do adhere to the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists. Our courses are carefully screened by the Planning Committee to adhere to APA standards. We also require authors who compose Internet courses specifically for us follow APA ethical standards.

Many of our courses contain case material, and may use the methods of qualitative research and analysis, in-depth interviews and ethnographic studies. The psychotherapeutic techniques depicted may include play therapy, sandplay therapy, dream analysis, drawing analysis, client and therapist self-report, etc. The materials presented may be considered non-traditional and may be controversial, and may not have widespread endorsement within the profession. maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

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Certification Training in the Peterson Model of Prenatal Counseling and Birth Hypnosis

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